Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

It has been a sunny week in both PLoS offices (in Cambridge, UK, and San Francisco) but we’ve stayed inside long enough to round up the week’s news and blog coverage of some of the articles published in PLoS ONE.

Last month, an article by Emilios Gemenetzidis and colleagues, published in PLOS ONE last month, has picked up quite a bit of news coverage this week. The scientists report that nicotine may have the potential to increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer. An excellent break-down of the study can be found in the “Best Treatments” section of the Guardian (in collaboration with the BMJ). The Times and NHS Choices also covered the story.

Two PLoS ONE articles by scientist Boris Rubinsky and colleagues, one published last week (Cellular Phone Enabled Non-Invasive Tissue Classifier) and one last year (A New Concept for Medical Imaging Centered on Cellular Phone Technology) have both been featured in a news article in this week’s Nature, which discusses the increasingly important role of the mobile phone as a data collection tool. You can read more about some of the coverage of Rubinsky’s 2008 paper via this blog post.

We highlighted some of the coverage of Gonzalo Alvarez’s paper on the role of inbreeding among the Spanish Habsburg dynasty last week but the stories are still coming in, including a recent article in ScienceNOW and one in Cosmos.

A paper published last week in PLoS ONE by Mark Tanaka at the University of New South Wales and colleagues in the UK has prompted a number of great blog posts this week. In the article, From Traditional Medicine to Witchcraft: Why Medical Treatments Are Not Always Efficacious, the authors use a mathematical model, which could explain why the use of complementary medicines and purely superstitious remedies for medical ailments can, in some circumstances, spread more quickly through populations than treatments known to be effective. The following blogs all covered the study: Science-Based Medicine, CxLxMxRx, Epiphenom, Respectful Insolence and Beyond the Short Coat.

Reporting in PLoS ONE this week, Elena Angulo and Franck Courchamp at the Université Paris Sud devised a study to assess whether rare species, like rare stamps or coins, are inherently more attractive to us than common ones. The authors created a website which invited visitors to download one of two slideshows—one containing images of rare species and one containing images of common species, although no other information about the contents of the slideshows was given. Visitors opted more often to download the “rare” slideshow and also waited longer for the file to download before giving up than for the “common” slideshow, suggesting we do have an inherent attraction to rarity. Angulo and Courchamp caution that our penchant for rarity means that conservationists should be prudent when using rarity to promote conservation. Blog coverage of the study includes posts at Observations of a Nerd and the EEB and Flow.

Finally this week, a team of scientists in Australia led by Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, published an article in PLoS ONE, which brings some good news for coral reefs. The researchers report that some coral reefs have been shown to recover rapidly following coral bleaching events. One of the authors, Jez Roff, posted a great write-up of the study on the Climate Shifts blog.

From the Other PLoS Journals

PLoS Medicine published an article this week by researchers at Duke University on the dangers of “silent” heart attacks among patients whose electrocardiograms don’t show any signs of the abnormalities normally associated with a heart attack. The study was covered by CNN, the LA Times Health Blog, and CBS News.

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